Question: No matter how transparently the Hizmet volunteers act, those who have a fixed and dark prejudice and conditioned mindset, keep repeating claims such as, “They have a secret agenda,” meaning the Hizmet movement. What are your thoughts on this issue and what are the responsibilities of the devoted volunteers with respect to this?
Answer: Actually, it appears that not only Turkey, but the world in general, is suffering from a very serious degree of paranoia, and there is suspicion and anxiety toward almost everything and everybody. The present paranoia in Turkey however is almost unparalleled in history. To describe what is happening in Turkey with the approach of Bediüzzaman, they are comfortably treating imagined possibilities as actual realities and then issuing the weightiest verdicts about people based on these imagined possibilities. Remember that Bediüzzaman drew attention to this fact in answer to the baseless claims and allegations directed at him when he was on trial. He stated that it was possible for the judge and prosecutor in that law court to commit murder and, if it is fair to arrest people according to possibilities, the judge and prosecutor could also be charged in the same way.
Basing judgments on imagined possibilities, inventing fictional stories about people’s futures and then portraying these people as potential criminals can only be an indication of insanity. Unfortunately the whole world, particularly Turkey, nowadays is experiencing a state of insanity. Therefore, it is rather difficult to express yourself to people who are suffering from such a level of insanity. For this reason, it is necessary to accept this reality first. Then through your statements, attitude and behaviors, you should express at every opportunity that you have good intentions and that you have no schemes or secret agendas for the future, without giving in to hopelessness or growing weary. We do not and cannot have anything to do with scheming or underhand future plans in our agenda. Running after fancies as interfering with this or that, and trying to change certain things is light years away from our world of thought and feelings. I hold the opinion that, let alone those who are right at the heart of the movement, who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity, such a thought has not even appeared in the dreams of those who stand on the periphery. It is for this reason that when you relate these claims to those devoted souls, they look at your face naively in surprise. Such fictions do not exist even in their imaginations or dreams.
Expecting returns is the ultimate unfaithfulness to God
Those who take earning God’s good pleasure as their greatest aim are already pursuing the most worthy goal in this world. For this reason, even if they spend their entire lifetime pursuing this ideal, they will regard their efforts as too little. They view travelling on the path of glorifying the Name of God, and striving for His blessed Name to be honored in the four corners of the world, as the greatest means of gaining His pleasure. Helping people to understand religion correctly, preventing mistaken and distorted interpretations of religion and correcting these bears a particular importance, especially these days. Explaining to people that those who think they are doing good by resorting to violence and bloodshed are wrong, and presenting to people the real identity of Islam, who’s name is derived from a root meaning ‘being in peace’ and ‘safety’, is one of the most proper and direct ways of gaining God’s pleasure. So, as we have devoted our souls to this cause, we humbly intend and endeavor to take this path to gain our Lord’s good pleasure. The efforts we make are so that Islam, which enjoins uprightness, can be understood correctly. We are trying to enable all hearts to feel it as a universal teaching that embraces all humanity. Meanwhile, we are making efforts to build and atmosphere of consensus between people who have different understandings, worldviews and philosophies of life, and thus prove that everyone shares a common ground no matter their different understandings or cultures.
Now, if you are really dedicated to these high ideals that I explained, you should be surprised when you hear claims such as, “They seek this—they seek that” and take it as lowliness to seek such worldly rewards stated in these claims. I can even say that the service these devoted souls are committed to and make sincere efforts for, is much more valuable than conquering many lands, as it is a direct way of serving faith and trying to connect hearts with God. Imagine them telling me, “If you leave behind your present understanding of serving humanity and the related feelings and thoughts, then we will grant you one of the greatest triumphs in history.” I would reply to them, “For God’s sake, did you see any shortcomings in my servitude to my God that you are inviting me to such a downfall?” We are seekers of God's good pleasure. For this reason, we are trying to use the important capital God bestowed on us; our reason, ideas, thoughts, feelings, judgment and logic, for the sake of making wise use of our lives, of which God gave us only one. We view it as disrespectful to our Lord to waste this precious capital, which He has given only once and we will be called to account for every aspect of it, for the sake of such worthless and futile things that are expressed in the groundless accusations. So these thoughts, in my humble opinion, must be like habitual prayers for everyone who has committed their hearts to this path. What falls to us is to emphasize at every opportunity that we have no secret agendas, prove this with our attitude and behaviors and explain this as much as we can to those who sincerely wish to learn about these matters. As God Almighty is the owner of hearts, He is similarly the one who will make the truth enter hearts. We fulfill our own duty and then leave the result to Him.
Meeting envy and irritability are warts on this path
Another important point of this issue is being cognizant of human nature and viewing the envy and intolerance shown by some people as normal. It should not be forgotten that God Almighty sent Divine favors and bestowals to this movement of volunteers that sprang from the heart of Anatolia. Imagine that—particularly the first three centuries of—the Ottoman times mark the heyday of Turkish history. During this time, the Ottoman state became a prominent actor among the world powers. The present economic situation and conditions of Turkey are obvious. But praise be to God, our friends (volunteers) have gone to places that even the Ottomans could not go to, and by God's grace, have initiated educational activities in different cities in 170 different countries of the world. This pleasant outcome effectively means introducing Turkey in a beautiful way in some 170 different places. As has also been reflected by the media coverage, those who graduate from these educational establishments are friendly toward Turkey and prefer to complete their university education and have future careers there. All of these issues should be viewed as a special favor from God and the occurrence of certain intolerant attitudes should be accepted as normal.
Satan became an eternal loser due to his jealousy of Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. Due to the animosity that pervaded his nature, which became completely fixed on envy and grudges, he became unable to feel and appreciate the beauties he saw. This state of Satan can be compared to the mood of two men engaged in a fistfight or who have drawn their knives and are walking toward one another with malice. If you go near those people who are out of their minds and say, “Come on, you are God’s servants; you’re each other’s brother; how can a person do that to his brother?” they might stab you as well. Therefore, it is not possible to bring them to their senses at such a moment.
The mood of certain circles, which object to everything, is no different than that. Therefore, you should accept that such people have become so pervaded by negative feelings and their body chemistry has become so unbalanced that they cannot tolerate you. In this respect, in addition to acting with utmost transparency, it is necessary to avoid displaying attitudes and behaviors that might provoke envy in others. Considering the fact that our part is only inclining toward goodness with our freewill, and that Divine Power is the real agent, what we do is actually so little. However, we should seek ways to not lay claim even to those little things but ascribe them to others. For example, in the face of an achievement God Almighty blessed you with, you should ascribe it to the circumstances with a remark such as, “This is a result of democracy.” In the face of another achievement, you should say: “God Almighty is granting some positive results in return for everybody’s efforts. Had it not been for such an atmosphere of tolerance, and had this general atmosphere not been retained, we could not have been able to carry out these services.” In addition, it should be known that this style and attitude is the safest way for those who strive on the path of God to save themselves from falling to an abyss of conceit and associating partners with God.
God almighty knows and the people see the truth already!
As some have completely lost their feelings of shame, they keep fabricating libel, slanders and insults against you, and you naturally feel sad. Don’t worry! There is God, who has authority over all things, who sees and knows everything. In addition, this world will be followed by the next one. There will be the Great Gathering, the Day of Reckoning and the weighing of deeds!
As a natural outcome of a believer’s character, I have tried to follow as much as I can the way and method of the blessed Abu Bakr all along. Remember that one day a man came and released a stream of invective at him. Abu Bakr kept silent; he did not say anything for a long time or give any response. When the slanders seemed to be endless, he could not help but say a few words to defend himself. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, who had been watching them, let him know that while Abu Bakr showed patience against his evil words, an angel had been defending him, and that when he started speaking, the angel departed. For this reason, cries of silence are always howling ahead of my voice. For this reason, I engage in a profound self-scrutiny and virtually step out of my own world of feelings. For this reason, I bury my screams within and voice my feelings with lamentations of silence.
Note that God knows the truth of everything and people do see the realities of what happens. Then fair-minded people will form, and already are forming, their own opinions. In spite of all these threats and pressures, Turkish people keep walking, and even ceaselessly running, on the path of God. Our intellectuals who find opportunities to express themselves are trying to voice truths in spite of all attempts at preventing them.
They are resorting to any means in order to condemn as persona non grata those who defend the path, method and stance of the Hizmet movement. If a columnist comments positively about this humble man or the movement, he immediately becomes the target of a vindictive reaction and, with a new lie, that person is accused of being closely affiliated with me. They even interrogate and arrest that person like a criminal. Moreover, wherever there is a decent person with patriotic values, they accuse him of affiliation with me right away in order to finish him and make a fuss that, “This is one of his men.” They treat as outlaws those who do not steal, do not embezzle, and who live as upright members of the society. They even condemn a man who observes the daily Prayers, who attends the Friday Prayer, who donates to charity and supports poor students’ education; they accuse him of being affiliated with me and seek to locate him in an illegal organization.
Let me express once again that, despite every kind of despotism, pressure and oppression, the people of Anatolia still stand behind these good works. Within the framework of the laws and rules, the volunteers who have dedicated themselves to serving their country, ideals and humanity, keep walking uprightly on the path of truth. They face the misfortunes that befall them as warts on the path of truth and see all of these as components of this testing ground. Full of belief and hope, they are trying to do their best to past this test, which is bound to end so sweetly.
This article has originally been published in Turkish on 25/01/2016.